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Qantas engineers to lose jobs with new safety approach
15/06/2012 - Another 30 Qantas engineers are expected to lose their jobs after Fair Work Australia (FWA) ordered them to stop checking planes before all domestic flights.
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The airline and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) again found themselves before the industrial umpire in Sydney on Thursday, after Qantas changed its maintenance procedures for the Boeing 737-800 and its Airbus A330.
The airline announced on Wednesday that it no longer wanted safety checks on the aircraft before every flight, saying the new planes did not need as much maintenance.
But ALAEA told members to carry on checking the aircraft under the old system.
In Thursday's hearing, FWA upheld Qantas' application to stop engineers from carrying out the checks.
"FWA has upheld Qantas' application against the ALAEA and will issue legally binding orders requiring the union to cease all unprotected industrial action immediately," Qantas said in a statement after the hearing.
A Qantas spokesman confirmed the changes would lead to 30 redundancies but all would be voluntary not compulsory.
It comes a month after the airline announced it would shed 500 jobs at its heavy maintenance facilities in Victoria and Queensland.
ALAEA Federal Secretary Steve Purvinas said they would be taking their concerns over aircraft safety to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), despite Qantas having already received approval for the changes.
"If CASA doesn't listen, we will go to the Transport Minister (Anthony Albanese)," Purvinas told reporters.
He said having both an engineer and a pilot do a pre-flight check by "walking around" the aircraft led to eight times the amount of defects being spotted and that Qantas' new procedures of pilot-only checks would lead to errors being missed.
"It is apparent that Qantas is turning a blind eye to all the safety concerns and tying to turn it into a low-cost carrier," he said.
But Qantas said there was "absolutely no safety risk" and that it was simply" scaremongering by the union.
"The figures he is quoting were produced by the union and have not been verified by Qantas or any third party," a spokesman said in a statement.
"This system is what other airlines around the world do, including Virgin Australia and Jetstar. It is endorsed by the regulator and it is recommended by the aircraft manufacturers themselves."
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Rhonda | 18/06/2012 12:29 1
Needless to say that I won't fly Qantas if those checks cease! Anything that works in an environment where damage can occur on a daily basis (from birds, dust, wear and tear,lightning etc) should be checked before each flight. There is truth in the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure - especially when it comes to human lives in a metal cilinder kilometres off the ground with many opportunities for failure.
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